Over in the Skribit feature, as a suggested topic, an anonymous person asked “How to deal with the fact that the child calls the Au Pair ‘mom’.”
When I first saw this topic suggestion, I planned to ignore it. I wasn’t sure it was from a real host mom.
Honestly, how many times have you heard about this happening, with any kind of childcare provider? It’s more like a myth/fear about childcare, a myth/fear nurtured as part of western patriarchy’s plot to keep women at home in the kitchen wiping snot off the noses of toddlers, and stuff like that.
How come we never hear about kids calling their full-time mannies “Dad”? Hmm?
But, what if we take this suggested topic (somewhat) more seriously…?
I don’t think that this happens often, even in families with single dads where there is no actual Mom present. But where it does happen, obviously there is too much going on that it can’t be discussed on a blog. At that point, you go talk to a counselor, social worker, or clergyperson. And, you talk to your parenting partner.
Okay, now let’s take this topic suggestion really seriously, in a way that we all can consider on a blog. We can ‘interrogate’ the myth/fear. When this kind of myth/fear touches us, we can ask ourselves:
- How anguished are we at the thought of having our children cared for, in part, by someone who is not a parent?
- How fearful are we that our children don’t have enough love to share with their paid caregivers as well as their parents?
- How lacking in creativity are we that we can’t give our children loving ‘terms of endearment’ that capture the special relationship, the special kind of love, that can be shared between a child and a non-parent adult who cares for them?
The only way to address the myth/fear that this suggested topic touches upon is to start at the very beginning, at the initial premises upon which we became parents.
There is a category in the list of topics on this blog called “Your Host Mom Approach”. If you’ve ever clicked on that, you’d discover that there are many posts that address “Your Host Mom Approach” as part of a different topic, but also that there are no posts only about “Your Host Mom Approach”. This is because I have so much to say about what can comprise a useful and loving “Host Mom Approach” that I have no idea how to fit it into one post.
For the sake of this topic– might we consider:
– What kind of “Host Mom Approach” obviates this sort of concern?
– What kind of Host Mom Approach makes this topic a non-starter, a fiction, a myth, an absolutely RIDICULOUS concern?
Here are two beliefs that are fundamental to my Host Mom Approach:
1. Children need to be surrounded by love, they need to be cared for in a loving way. While no one expects that a paid caregiver or a caregiver who is ‘part of the family’ for a year will always “love” the children they care for, we can ask them to treat the children in a loving way. We can choose caregivers based on their willingness and their ability to care for our kids in a loving way.
2. Children have a lot of love to give. There is no need to fear that love given to a caregiver takes away from the love available for a parent.
Remember what you told your first child when you were expecting your second? Remember telling her that, when another baby joins a family, everyone’s heart gets bigger so that there is more love to give? Well, it works the same way with kids. The more loving people they experience in their lives, the more their hearts grow.
What’s a fundamental belief of your Host Mom (or Dad) Approach?